Bristol awarded EPSRC Funding For Nuclear Robotics

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) today announced four national research hubs for the latest ground-breaking research and innovation projects in robotics and artificial intelligence systems.

The University of Bristol will be a partner in two of these Hubs, in the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics and The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN).

The Bristol team, led by Professor Tom Scott, Director for Science at the South West Nuclear Hub, comprises 7 academics from across the Faculties of Science and Engineering. The full team is:

  • Professor Tom Scott - Physics
  • Professor Arthur Richards – Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr Tom Richardson - Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr John Day – Physics
  • Dr Oliver Payton – Engineering Mathematics
  • Dr Guido Herrmann – Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr Rob Malkin – Mechanical Engineering

The team will collaborate closely with University strategic partners Sellafield, NNL, AWE and Toshiba to tackle challenging problems in nuclear site monitoring, waste characterisation and plant inspection.

In reaction to the announcement, Professor Scott said: “It’s great to see Bristol do so well for funding in an area of national and international strategic importance. This new funding allows us to accelerate our award-winning research in key areas including nuclear pipeline inspection, UAVs for site monitoring and emergency response and autonomous robotic scanning methods for inspecting ageing nuclear waste packages and infrastructure”.

“This is a unique opportunity to really make a difference to the way we approach nuclear decommissioning worldwide. Using a robot instead of a human to undertake these complex and sometimes dangerous tasks is a far safer and efficient approach that will significantly reduce the costs of nuclear decommissioning and waste management to the UK taxpayer.”

National Centre for Nuclear Robotics

Project partners:  Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Essex, Lincoln, West of England, Lancaster University, Queen Mary University of London.

The National Centre for Nuclear Robotics will aim to develop advanced robotics and AI technologies for nuclear industry applications. These are required to help deal with nuclear waste, and alleviate the need to send humans into hazardous environments. These advances are also needed to maintain and monitor the UK’s existing nuclear power stations, and facilitate the safe building and operation of new-build nuclear power-plants.

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN)

Project partners: Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bristol and the UKAEA’s RACE centre.

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub involves robotics and nuclear engineering experts across the UK and international partners from the US, Italy and Japan. It will undertake world-leading research and develop innovative technologies to address the challenges facing the nuclear industry, from decommissioning and waste management to fusion, plant life extension and new build.

You can read the full release from EPSRC here.

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